Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI
IT’S been an eventful three days after a whistle-blower stirred the hornet’s nest on Saturday, alleging that Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) executive committee members shared a whopping K1.4 million in bonuses for managing teenage national teams.
I do not subscribe to hearsay and I was far from that even when I got the figures through some social media platform that went viral almost at the same time former FAZ vice-president Richard Kazala was being muscled out of the association’s annual general meeting shouting blue murder.
The figures were staggeringly too huge to legally or otherwise qualify as allowances, so I prudently took a back step to analyse the figures and the source to ascertain, among other things, malice. And truly, there was malice because the document was released at a critical time.
The second thing I wanted to prove is whether there was any grain of truth in the figures. This I could not immediately tell because FAZ was yet to give its full side of the story.
I thought when such a chance arose for it to tell its story, FAZ would outrightly deny and dismiss the document as being a figment of someone’s imagination, cooked raw and solely to malign innocent people.
But alas, FAZ missed a chance to do that as they in fact justified the huge allowances. I was alarmed.
The problem is not whether they are entitled to those allowances or not but the morality of earning such money from a broke association now associated with bailiffs and losing cases through default judgments.
The problem is paying themselves such money when the secretariat staff – people employed to run affairs of the game – have not been paid their February and March salaries (unless it was done yesterday).
The problem is to draw such allowances when marshals, volunteers and suppliers who helped during Under-20 tournaments have not been paid. The problem is suspending whistle-blowers when you professed transparency and accountability.
Those, my friends at FAZ, are the problems.
Football at the level of executive committee members is supposed to be a service to the nation. Even the best profit-making organisations do not pay such allowances to their board members.
First of all, there is no need for FAZ executive members to work like full-time staff for five months because that’s the role of the secretariat staff or any other who may be recruited for that purpose.
And unless someone reminds me of my failing memory, the last time executive committee members got such outrageous bonuses, Parliament had to approve.
From the figures given, executive members shared over K800,000 after winning the Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations while players got US$3,300 each.
I know these are considered minors or something like that but how much do senior national team players get as allowances? Should executive committee members get more than players and the coaches around whom football is woven?
That question must be answered together with who gets more weekly allowances between Alexis Sanchez and Jose Mourinho, for instance.
Allowances as high as K128,000 per tournament gives a bad name to our football because those that finance the game (Government and corporates) and members of the public will misunderstand why people clamour to join FAZ.
If this was the first test for FAZ executive members, I am sorry I would not give them a pass but I pray posterity finds them on the right side when time of reckoning comes.
Soccer Review with STEPHEN PHIRI